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How well do you know your facility? How do you track your mechanical, electrical, plumbing, or other equipment? How are the conditions of your roofs, exterior façade, parking lots, etc.? Facility assessments are key in developing a strategic plan of attack for maintaining a facility for years to come. To many, just thinking about this might feel a bit overwhelming!
Facility assessments can start as a basic ‘walk through’ with a trusted design professional to familiarize them with the facilities infrastructure and operating systems on a high-level overview. Then, when possible, issues are identified and transition into a deeper-dive by implementing information on equipment, including model numbers, age of equipment, 3-D imaging/modeling (BIM, 3-D photos, virtual walk-through of the building). The more information available to staff and owners, the better understanding everyone has of the buildings/systems and the current conditions.
The information discovered in a facility assessment can be utilized to deliver master planning, maintenance, future project budgeting, informing board members, educating facility maintenance staff, and even educating future owners. Many times, the mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) systems get overlooked and without proper planning can lead to some major upgrading costs. Maintenance conditions can be identified early on and addressed as well as determining scheduled phasing strategies to help spread out cost expenditures of such projects.
When performing facility assessments, architects and/or engineers (A/E) will first meet with the facility staff to understand the goals of the assessment, and key issues or discovery points that a facility assessment can uncover. Having a current set of blueprints or construction documents of the facility is very helpful but not always available. Although blueprints and drawings are great reference documents, nothing can replace pertinent information that is gathered by looking at the facility from the maintenance staff’s perspective.
Most of the ‘pinch-points’ of the facility are not indicated in drawings but must be found by moving ceiling tiles and crawling in and around equipment. The knowledge of the facility staff is invaluable as they are the ones that deal with the building’s operations each day. Along with meeting with the staff, A/E will gather all other critical information that has been kept about the facility and current operating systems.
With this information gathered and documents in-hand, the next step is to analyze and process what has been discovered. Multiple visits to the facility and meetings with staff might have to occur to accurately comply the information and compare it with existing drawings and documents. All the information will then be evaluated, processed and reports will be generated. The A/E will provide the reports to the Owner and meet to present the findings, code/safety concerns, potential costs, and can help with future updates and planning as desired by the owner.
The owner will be able to utilize this information in a variety of ways that can lead to maintenance items, building system updates, renovations, and discussion of the lifecycle of the building, to name a few. A building and its internal infrastructure are complex and should not be overlooked. So, the better an owner knows their building, the longer the building can remain in good working condition and provide the needs for the facility in a comfortable and safe environment for the building occupants and employees.
Farris Engineering is an industry leader in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering with additional expertise in fire protection engineering, lighting design, building commissioning services, technology systems design, and life safety systems engineering. They look forward to tackling your projects head-on with this talented team of employee-owners as they Bring Your Buildings to Life. To learn more, visit www.farris-usa.com.
Joseph D. Bannwarth, EI
The Communication Committee is comprised of volunteers of AIA South Dakota and are dedicated to the mission of the Blueprint South Dakota blog. Our goal is to build strong South Dakota communities and to connect ideas and expertise to address challenges in our state. Through the curated content of this site, we want to find a blueprint for better cities and towns.